by Nicole A. Basque, B.A., RMT
As a Registered Massage Therapist, my personal goal is to offer each individual client a treatment that best meets their needs. Every person is unique; as is every body, while each one of us has different lifestyles, daily habits, activity levels, and pain tolerance. As a result, symptoms manifest differently according to each situation.
Part of the Massage Therapy profession is to take continuing education classes every year. This keeps us up to date as therapists, and maintains our knowledge of the human body. I recently participated in a few classes to learn massage therapy techniques called Joint Play and Muscle Energy Techniques (METs). These specific treatment techniques are easy on my body as a therapist, gentle on the client and adaptable to each person’s physical needs.
Many clients (and some therapists) think the only way to treat their physical issue is through deep tissue massage. In my opinion, this is a misconception. There are techniques that can be extremely effective that do not use deep, painful pressure. Muscle Energy and Joint Play are examples of gentle techniques.
METs mainly target soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments). Physiologically, opposing muscles balance one another. For example, when your biceps contract, your triceps will reciprocally relax. During MET treatments, the therapist will ask the client to contract either the muscle that is causing pain, or the opposing muscle, for ten seconds. After the contraction, the muscle relaxes, and the therapist is able to stretch the tissues, thus gaining length and decreasing the contraction within the painful muscle. To perform Joint Play techniques, the therapist gently separates and oscillates the structures that make up a joint to create space within that particular joint and initiate movement. There are many different styles and methods of using this technique, all meant to be gentle and pain-free. The purpose of joint play is to help loosen tight or adhered joints, to increase fluid flow, decrease pain and to increase the range of motion of a joint.
Both METs and joint play can be a useful part of a treatment for almost every person. METs can be used at any point of the massage treatment and help relax the muscle before or after the application of more traditional Swedish massage techniques. Joint play techniques can also be applied at any time in the treatment. Both of these techniques allow the therapist to conserve energy and to work in a more effective way. I include both of these techniques in almost every treatment and find them to be effective in helping me provide relief and comfort for my clients.
Deep tissue treatments are not the only way to solve a pain issue. It is important to encourage clients to be open-minded to various treatments. Allowing the therapist to incorporate METs and Joint Play techniques will result in a massage that is effective and pleasant for the client.
Nicole Basque, B.A., RMT studied Massage Therapy at the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy in Toronto. To arrange a therapeutic massage session with Joint Play and Muscle Energy Techniques with Nicole, call The Pacific Wellness Institute at 416-929-6958.